Did you know that January 3rd is International Mind-Body Wellness Day? Me neither, but this is right up my alley! There is strong evidence that mind and body are connected. I know that positive attention to both mind and body will yield good results. Unfortunately, when things get busy and stressful, what seems to suffer are those things that keep us healthy. January is a good time to reflect on what makes you happy and healthy and recommit to doing these things every day. As you read through this list, notice that each area will affect both the mind and the body.
Sleep has been proven to provide a clear and focused mind. In my humble opinion, sleep is probably the most under-utilized tool that we have at our fingertips that can make a huge difference in our lives. Most Americans don’t get enough rest and their mental and physical health will suffer as a result. Good quality sleep is not always easy to come by but, as with most good habits, creating routine and meaning around this can be helpful in establishing a habit for life.
Nutrition can create calm and it can create stress. Many of us know the jittery, anxious feeling that comes with too much caffeine or sugar. Conversely, a nice cup of chamomile tea tends to relax and calm the soul. Again, the routine that comes with eating is what brings meaning into your life. If you’re running from task to task without taking the time to enjoy your food, you may be missing out on one of the greatest joys of life – savoring every nutritious bite that goes into your mouth.
Movement (as opposed to exercise) is natures way of keeping our muscles and joints happy and healthy. Don’t get me wrong; exercise is an important part of life. But if you look at societies that are the healthiest, one of the things that they share is that they walk most places and are moving frequently throughout the day (Blue Zone, Buettner). Sometimes, movement can be an expressive way to release pent-up emotions. Consider a time when you might have been swimming/running/fill-in-the-blank and became so focused on your breathing that everything else melted away. Or that time that you danced on a dance floor (or your kitchen) without any worries and, before you knew it, your mind was calm and your body relaxed.
Spirituality is the state of being connected to something greater than yourself. Again, one size does not fit all and it takes some people many years to become comfortable in their chosen practice. But there is a richness in life that comes from finding that purpose in life that is outside of ourselves. We can find this through prayer, meditation, shamanism and/or breathwork, just to name a few. Walking in nature or creating ritual amongst the full moon are other ways that can feed one’s soul.
Creativity is not something that’s typically recognized as linked to mind-body awareness. But in my experience, this is a vital part of being expressive in a way that suits you, thus providing an outlet for physical release and emotional healing. There are many “traditional” creative endeavors, like painting, drawing, music or writing that allow one to express deeply and fully. But some of the non-traditional creative pursuits are just as meaningful. Cooking, baking, decorating or computer graphics are things that come to mind for me.